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Us 15, Olage 5, San Francisco 4, Sarah 3, The City 3, Valencia 3, Campos 2, Soma 2, Angelica 1, Alicia Gascon 1, Estelle Gomez 1, Mina 1, Bart Murphy 1, Ted 1, San Francisco Tenants Union 1, Somcan 1, Chinatown 1, Richmond 1, Wiener 1, San Franciscoans 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    December 3, 2012
    2:30 - 3:00pm PST  

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want this ordinance to be passed. thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is angelica and i am with somcan. we organize and educate families to achieve a healthy neighborhood, soma and greater san francisco. since we were formed in 2000 in the 13 years we have been around tenant harassment hasn't gone down. if anything, it actually escalated, especially when a lot of the tech industry has been formed or is housed in the south of market. we have over 40 tech industries there so a lot of landlord or management has been really banking on this new possible tenants. so
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tenant has escalated around a lot of the alleyways that a lot of our families lived in over 20 years. i want to tell you one particular stories that one of our families has actually gone through. when we say tenant harassment, this isn't just tenant harassment on adults, a lot of our youth, the children of these parents have been harassed as well. one particular story i want to tell you about is jake. he lives on mina street and his family was living in this apartment with 6 units. at first the landlord informed them that they have to leave because of foreclosure. then when we have them actually get documents from the landlord there was multiple different change of story why they have to move. it escalated into jake's family being harassed, their locks being messed with,
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their safety being messed with in terms of they weren't locking the gates, they were leaving it open for anybody to come in, it really built a lot of stress not only to his parents but to the youth so it affected his education too. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, my name is alicia gascon and we represent sro families in soma. we live a lot of the same stories no matter the background. we're in favor of hassle free ordinance especially because the landlords use a lot of excuses for the harassment that goes on. most families and seniors and disabled persons are scared to use common areas because of fear they happen to run into the management or the
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landlord themselves regardless of hearings that we go to at the rent board they are still scared and told, you know, whether you win or lose we're going to come after you, you are going to have to move either way, it's going to come out of your pocket somehow. we can write letters on behalf of our tenants but either way harassment continues or escalates causing harm to families, locking them out, leaving them in the rain whether they have children or not, not allowing them to use elevators when they are in wheelchairs and so this goes all the way from chinatown mission tender loin soma, no matter the background again. so we're in favor and we hope that you can help. thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon,
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supervisors, i'm sarah short, housing rights committee. first off i'd like to say we very much support this legislation. and i'm concerned that bart murphy and brook turner are seriously missing the point here. of course there are no complaints at the rent board. of course we don't have a record showing that this is a big problem at that agency because it is not a category that one can file on currently. that's what this law does is make it a category that a person can come and file a petition about. so that is sort of circular logic and i wanted to correct that for the record. it is really important, in fact critical, that tenants have this administrative remedy for the issue of landlord harassment. tenants shouldn't be forced to only use the courts, especially low income tenants who don't have a lot of
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resources may also have language access issues and disabilities and other things that make it really challenging. the harassment issue is, in fact, a loophole. it is used as a tool to get around our very strong tenant protections that ensure that people are not evicted without cause, without just cause. harassment is, in fact, not a just cause. and so it should be amended to the rent ordinance so that essentially it is seen as another reason why it would be unlawful for a landlord to evict. that's simply what we're saying through doing this, is that a landlord cannot evict a tenant out of their home by a harassment and i am for one tired of seeing these kinds of cases. we hear so many stories where it's from the landlord decides they are doing
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construction in the house for a seemingly unnecessary reason, you know, starting at 3:00 in the morning, there are absurd, absurd cases that we hear over and over again. >> thank you. >> yes (applause). >> ted, san francisco tenants union. harassment is one of the biggest problems we see at the tenants union and it's almost always long-term tenants and the landlord is trying to drive them out use ago loophole. it's very effective because tenants have very few resources to deal with harassment unless they actually have damages such as emotional damages, physical damages in which case they can bring a lawsuit. voters overwhelmingly passed prop m in 2008 so tenants would have an administrative remedy. that measure said the tenants could get their rent reduced if they were harassed. we
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developed this approach to have the rent board treat harassment complaints as a wrongful approach. it will let tenants have an administrative remedy in order to deal with harassment, something that is desperately needed so when tenants are being harassed, they can go to a city department, they can file a complaint, pursuant to prop m they can take the rent board decision and findings and go to small claims court for statutory damages. if we don't stop harassment, which is very common and is increasingly very very sharply during this latest dot com boom, we are going to see more and more tenants being
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displaced and i would be ashamed of the board of supervisors if you let landlords drive out tenants by harassment, it's horrendous, it's awful and you need to stop it. thank you. (applause). >> well, thank you for hearing this and thanks to just cause for focusing on this issue. i was evicted twice but when i was evicted we were able to find reasonable rent, we were able to find apartments in the mission in our same neighborhood. right now that's no longer possible. when people are evicted they have to leave the city. i don't even know where they can go. many people who are evicted in my neighborhood, in the mission, are evicted because of gentrification and they are evicted, they are mostly long-term tenants. our old neighbors upstairs were harassed when their roof was leaking during the rainy season and they asked for something
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very unreasonable, they asked the roof be repaired. the landlord threatened and yelled and intimidated them and they lived with buckets in their living room and bedroom because they were too afraid they were going to be evicted. getting statistics could be helpful to learn the extent of landlord harassment but if we wait, more and more tenants are being evicted. as we know there's no vacancy control so when long-term tenants who are paying reasonable rent leave, the landlords can raise the rent any amount. really the face of san francisco and i know my neighborhood is changing very quickly. this is urgent, please respond, thank you. >> is there any additional public comment? seeing none. >> if there's anyone else that would like to speak, please
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come forward. we're going to close public comment very soon. please stand up. next speaker. >> my name is estelle gomez, i
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am a member of casa just cause and i have been living in my apartment more than 5 years. the harassment began when the property owner of my unit attempted to overcharge us for utilities. when my husband and i asked her to show us the receipts of the amounts of money that we were paying if we
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were going to pay the utilities that she was asking us to, she gave us notes that did not have an address, did not have a date, did not have a number, just the amount of money that we supposedly owed. we continued to tell her that this was not going to be an acceptable form of a notice and she did not accept. she began to harass us and tell us we needed to pay us the utilities. she began by screaming at my husband, she went to my daughter's work and screamed at her in front of her clients. a couple of days after that, my daughter was fired from her job. she then called my son and started screaming to him over the phone, telling him that she did not care how the money was found but that the light and the water would be paid. finally she told us that we needed to leave. she gave us a verbal eviction. we told her that verbal evictions are not valid and she became even more angry and has denied giving us
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anything in writing. my husband and i are seniors with limited incomes and with the help of our children we struggle to pay rent and live in peace in our community. the owners of our home feel that they can do whatever they want against us because -- and that we don't have any rights but this isn't so. please support us, please support this legislation and help us ensure that our rights to live in safe housing that is free of this type of harassment is met. thank you. >> thank you. only for those who have not spoken yet --. >> i didn't use up all my time. i'd like 30 seconds. >> it doesn't work that way. >> well, the rent board refuses to hear us because this does not exist. >> ma'am, your time is up. is there anyone else that would like to speak? seeing none,
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public comment is closed. if there are no objections let's hear this last person. thank you. >> my name is maria and i am here to give my own opinion
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because the words that i say is from the city because the city has allowed these people to build for business and let them take the tenants' houses. rich people, corporation, can do business by own houses and you supervisor have been elected to represent us. please support this legislation to be sure we keep our houses because we really in danger to lose all houses. thank you very much. >> seeing no other public comment, public comment is closed. supervisor olage >> yeah, i just wanted to thank everyone for coming out. i wanted to mention that, as i
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commented earlier, the language before you is significantly different from the original language i introduced over the summer, which provided for damages and additions to the list of harassment. it was significantly watered-down in part because there was major push back from i think the apartment association and others and through the mayor's office and so we worked with the mayor's office, the city attorney and the rent board to get this to a place where it was more, in a place where we could provide some protection against harassment to tenants but not at the level that we originally had hoped to place something on the ballot. so we did pull that measure from the ballot, worked with again the rent board, the city attorney, and the mayor's office to come up with language that we felt was more acceptable but still provided some basic protections
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to tenants who in a city where it is one of the most expensive rental markets possibly in the world, certainly in this country and this state, then i worked for a number of years doing tenant counseling with single room occupancy hotel tenants and with seniors and disabled citizens of san francisco and i can tell you i don't have a number or a statistic but the type of harassment was definitely present and extensive and i don't believe this applies obviously to landlords who don't abuse this, there are plenty of good landlords out there, we're not suggesting that there aren't, but certainly with the market being what it is in san francisco it places vulnerable tenants, particularly immigrants, many of who we heard speak today, i know seniors and other low income tenants did face a lot of these issues.
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so i'll go ahead and read briefly what the language is that would be added to this administrative code and just so folks can know exactly what it states. just a hearing on alleged wrongful endeavor to recover possessions through tenant harassment. upon receipt of a tenant report alleging wrongful endeavor to recover possession of the tenant's unit through harassment, the board through its executive director shall send a notice acknowledging receipt of the report and summarizing the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants regarding possession of and eviction from residential rental units. upon consideration of such report, the executive director may schedule an investigative hearing on the allegations before a board or administrative law judge where both the tenant and the
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landlord may appear and make oral presentations, including presentation of other witnesses. following such hearing the administrative law judge shall provide the board with a summary of evidence produced at the hearing. that's basically what would be added. i believe that just the passage of prop m which, again, was challenged in court and dismissed is an indication that residents in this city do feel that harassment is a real issue that many of them deal with regardless of whether the statistics, if one could read prop m and its passage is an ipld indication people need for protection around this issue. that's an indicator. that's where i'll leave it. colleagues, are there any -- supervisor cohen.
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>> thank you very much. i want to thank the member s of the public who came out to give testimony as well as the leaders in the industry, given your perspective. this has actually been a very eye-opening experience listening to this. i too am a renter but as many of you know, i represent district 10 which is the baby portrero hill neighborhood. i am becoming more well versed with some of the challenges of living in the mission, of living in the tender loin and south of market area. thank you, supervisor olage, for bringing this level of attention to the board of supervisors. as i begin to gain more knowledge i would like to publicly reach out to mr.
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gulickson and the tenant's union and sarah short as well. i want to hear from the rent board, i have not heard from them, sarah short, you may very clear why they would not perhaps weigh in on this issue. i'm not prepared to vote on it today and i'd like to make a motion to continue this item so i can personally become more well versed on the issues that circulate this particular renting demographic, this group of san franciscoans. i feel like i owe everyone who came and spoke just an opportunity to walk in their shoes and to really be able to empathize with some of the frustrating living circumstances that people are going through. so i would appreciate if i could have a little bit more time. i'd like to make a motion to move that this be, that this item be moved to the call of
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the chair. >> there's a motion let's continue the discussion. supervisor wiener. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thanks everyone who came out today. i was actually, and i made this comment at the beginning before public comment, that i was just surprised that the rent board is not here. i know one commissioner came and gave public testimony but when we're talking about doing legislation to create a new hearing and noticing mechanism for the rent board i would want to know that the rent board has -- and one person referred to the rent board considering harassment, i'm sure the rent board has considered harassment, but the question is whether the rent board has considered and commented on this particular piece of legislation. so i am just surprised the rent board wasn't here today to make
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comments on the legislation so i'd be interested in hearing from the rent board about that. so i'm inclined to support the motion. >> thank you, supervisors. let me also thank everyone for testifying today and thank supervisor olage and the housing organizations for bringing an issue forward that many of us know anecdotally and with stories of friends and others that have faced harassment. i do know it's a real issue in the richmond district but also throughout the city and i do know how challenging it is to get data on information and even to know the subjective line of what is harassment and what may be a landlord requesting basic information or having some legitimate need to communicate to a tenant that may be perceived as harassment as well. but i do know from my communications with the tenant
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organizations that it is a serious issue, that prop m from 2008 was attempting to address. unfortunately it was struck down by courts and this is another effort to try to address a serious issue that's been going on for a number of years. april and others mentioned that the current housing cost spike that's increasing is leading to more incidents and reports of harassment so i feel like this is a critical issue. i do appreciate that supervisor olage also has worked closely with many organizations including the city attorney's office and also rent board staff and also the apartment association to try to concern so i think this is a simple administrative procedure that's been brought to us. i think it can work but i have some questions still about rent board data, as others have said, and how it would work as
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well. it seems that the language of the ordinance also says that the executive director of the rent board may send this to an administrative law judge and i had some questions about what's the burden of proof, is it any allegations of harassment or does the director make a determination of what is harassment and what may be not harassment? i'm just curious if supervisor olage can answer that one. >> would be able to make those determinations, yeah. >> i think like my colleagues i would appreciate, would have appreciated it if the rent board or others could have been here to answer the questions but i'm still ready to vote on this today. i won't support a continuance. i do feel like this is a serious enough issue that i would oppose a continuance but let me just ask supervisor olage if you have any suggestions. >> again, you know, my last meeting at the board will be december 11 so i was hoping to
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be able to shepherd this legislation through before leaving the board, which is part of why we calendared it in the manner that we did. again, because of the push back we received from the industry when we wanted to originally introduce this in july, that is why we've amended it to where it is now where it's a simple procedural nonbinding tool for the rent board to use as they deem appropriate. but it's, of course, i'm not an official member of this body so i just wanted to give some, and i do apologize, i should have thought to invite the rent board which i just -- slipped my mind and my preparation. >> can i just ask if the maker of the motion, supervisor cohen, would consider continuing this until december 11 as a courtesy to our colleague, supervisor olage, so at least it could be heard on that date as opposed to continuing it to the call of
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the chair? >> no, actually, would be interested -- i don't know if i'll be able to reach out and do the outreach that i needed. in all fairness, as this came about, our office wasn't included or reached out to. we actually actively reached out to supervisor olage's office this morning trying to get a better understanding of it. >> i apologize. >> i hate to be --. >> no, that's fine. >> hard nosed on this. >> that's fine, i just wanted to give some background why the language is what it is. it's not due to lack of input. certainly the industry seemed to be active in giving their input to the mayor's office. i just wanted to put that out there for the record. >> thank you. supervisor wiener. >> so we have a motion to continue to the call of the chair. can we have a roll call vote? >> on that motion, supervisor cohen.
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>> aye. >> cohen, aye. supervisor wiener. >> aye. >> wiener, aye. chair mar. >> no. >> mar no. the motion passes. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you, supervisor olage can we -- mr. clerk, can you call the next item? >> item 4 is an ordinance amending the planning code regarding the valencia street neighborhood commercial transit district. >> thank you. the sponsor of this or presenting today is stephanie ashly from supervisor campos' office. miss ashly, thank you. >> yes, good afternoon, supervisors, thank you for having me today. i am here representing supervisor campos' ofrs and we are introducing or bringing to your attention today an ordinance which would amend or address the valencia street neighborhood commercial transit districts to allow for
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personal service use on the third floor and above provided it met with conditional use authorization. so here to speak more about this ordinance for us is aaron star from the planning department and i believe we also have regina from the small business commission. >> mr. star. >> aaron star from planning department staff. the planning commission considered this item at their last week's november 29th hearing, they voted unanimously to approve it. the commission found that personal service was originally prohibited from the third floor in order to try to preserve housing on the third floor, but now that the valencia neighborhood commercial transit district has adequate protections to prohibit the conversion of residential units on the third floor that allowing this use on the third floor with conditional use